Saturday, 27 July 2013
This could have been a post about how not to treat a tapestry. Commissioned in 1373 by Louis I of Anjou, this staggering masterpiece is the longest wall hanging ever to be woven in Europe with a length of 140 metres (about 460 feet) and surface of 850 square metres (over 9,000 square feet).
Now there are only 104 metres remaining. The tapestry was bequeathed to Angers Cathedral where it was displayed for liturgical celebrations, though its huge size proved problematic. It was shortened to fit the walls and pieces were trimmed here and there. But the worst enemy was that of The Enlightenment, the paradigm of thought responsible amongst other vandalisms for the replacement of many precious medieval stained glass windows with plain glass - including Notre Dame de Paris. The age of reason and clarity loathed the Middle Ages and all the superstition with which it was attributed. In 1782, the tapestry was put up for sale at a virtually give away price - only to find no takers. It was then consigned to a depository of old discarded religious works.
It was a small step from that low position to being seen as a source for cloth which could be cut off for rubbing down horses, shoes or flooring! In 1848 when it was rediscovered in a pitiful state, it was decided to clean it by dunking it in the river which resulted in much colour loss to the front. And then it was put on display in front of windows. It was lucky in 1980 that someone thought to take the tapestry away from contact with the wall and while examined by professionals, it was found that the back was intact and beautifully coloured still. It was discovered that this was a true double-sided work with the back just as beautifully finished as the front with no hanging threads
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Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 19:28